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Martin Wilson, PhD


Martin started off his career investigating contraceptive vaccines with the Medical Research Council (MRC). Following this, he moved into lung toxicology and gained his PhD in nanotoxicology from Edinburgh Napier University. He then returned to the MRC to work on endometrial pathology. Following a brief detour into global pharmaceuticals, Martin joined the magazine ‘Bitesize Bio’ and set up the Microscopy and Imaging Channel.

Now freelance, Martin runs his own arts and crafts business creating award-winning slate art and bespoke slate and wood items. Martin is still very much involved in science- writing articles for Bitesize Bio as well as Agar Scientific and has written the ebook ‘Before You Touch That Microscope!’ You can find out more about his arts and crafts work on his Facebook page:

  • The Fundamentals and History of Fluorescence and Quantum Dots

    At some point in your research and science career, you will no doubt come across fluorescence microscopy. This ubiquitous technique has transformed the way in which microscopists can image, tag and trace anything from whole organisms to single proteins and beyond. In this article, we will examine what is meant by "fluorescence", the history and basic physics behind its definition, the discovery and application of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and a look at the rapidly expanding field of fluorescent probes including Quantum Dots.
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  • Eyepieces, Objectives and Optical Aberrations

    For most microscope applications, there are generally only two sets of optics which are adjusted by the user, namely, the objectives and the eyepieces. Of course, this is assuming that the microscope is already corrected for Koehler Illumination during which the condenser and diaphragms are adjusted.
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  • Koehler Illumination: A Brief History and a Practical Set Up in Five Easy Steps

    The technique of Koehler Illumination is one of the most important and fundamental techniques in achieving optimum imaging in any given light microscope set-up. Although it should be routinely used as part of setting up a microscope, many microscopists are put off by thinking that the correct set-up is complex and time consuming and it is therefore still not widely practised. By getting to know the two main components of the microscope which are adjusted in this technique (the diaphragms and sub-stage condenser) in reality, correct set-up should only take a matter of minutes. A correctly aligned microscope can result in greatly improved images of uniform contrast and illumination as well as higher resolution and more detail. In this article, we will look at the history of the technique in addition to how to adjust the components in five easy steps.
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  • Immersion Objectives: Using Oil, Glycerol, or Water to Overcome some of the Limits of Resolution

    To examine specimens at high magnifications using the microscope, there are a number of factors which need to be taken into consideration. These include resolution, numerical aperture (NA), the working distance of objectives and the refractive index of the medium through which the image is collected by the front lens of an objective. In this article, we will briefly look at how using an immersion medium between the coverslip and the objective front lens helps to increase the NA and resolution.
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  • Collecting Light: The Importance of Numerical Aperture in Microscopy

    Numerical aperture (abbreviated as ‘NA’) is an important consideration when trying to distinguish detail in a specimen viewed down the microscope. NA is a number without units and is related to the angles of light which are collected by a lens. In calculating NA (see below), the refractive index of a medium is also taken into account and by matching the refractive index of a slide or cell culture container with an immersion medium, then more of the detail of a specimen will be resolved. The way in which light behaves when travelling from one medium to another is also related to NA (and termed ‘refraction’). This article also covers a brief history of refraction and how this concept is a limiting factor in achieving high NA.
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  • Introduction to Widefield Microscopy

    One of the most basic microscopy techniques is known as ‘Widefield Microscopy’. It is fundamentally any technique in which the entire specimen of interest is exposed to the light source with the resulting image being viewed either by the observer or a camera (which can also be attached to a computer monitor).
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  • Microscope Resolution: Concepts, Factors and Calculation

    In microscopy, the term ‘resolution’ is used to describe the ability of a microscope to distinguish detail. In other words, this is the minimum distance at which two distinct points of a specimen can still be seen - either by the observer or the microscope camera - as separate entities. The resolution of a microscope is intrinsically linked to the numerical aperture (NA) of the optical components as well as the wavelength of light which is used to examine a specimen. In addition, we have to consider the limit of diffraction which was first described in 1873 by Ernst Abbe. This article covers some of the history behind these concepts as well as explaining each using relatively simple terminology.
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